Report Shows Utilities Increasingly Focused On Solar And Storage


A new report shows utility companies in North America are intensifying their focus on advanced energy storage and solar.

Analysts at research firm Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) tracked 52 clean energy requests for proposals (RFPs) in 2014. According to the report, solar dominated the market, both in capacity (1.8 GW) and quantity (27 RFPs). There was also a significant amount of interest – at least 12 RFPs – in other cleantech technologies, particularly energy storage.

Western states represented the biggest region for RFPs, the report says, with 1 GW being requested. The Southeast was the second-largest region in terms of capacity requested, almost all of it solar.

Wisconsin-based Alliant sought the greatest capacity sought with a single RFP.
Collectively, the U.S. armed forces issued seven RFPs.

‘The data reveals particularly strong interest in energy storage,’ says Will Nelson, head of analysis for BNEF in North America. ‘Interestingly, most storage RFPs are looking for a relatively small amount of capacity – evidence that these may be initial experimental forays into a rapidly changing sector.’

BNEF says RFPs are a leading indicator for trends in the utility industry because they are solicitations issued by companies to potential vendors. The issuers of RFPs specify the products or services they are seeking; in response, bidders submit proposals, competing against each other on the basis of pricing, capabilities and other factors.

In the world of clean energy, RFPs could involve procurement for renewable electricity-generating capacity or for technologies to make the grid more flexible or resilient.

‘For project sponsors and equipment vendors, RFPs are the lifeblood of their business development efforts,’ says Mark Taylor, product manager for BNEF. ‘They also give an early but concrete glimpse into which sectors are catching the eye of the market and about the strategic direction of utilities and other energy-consuming organizations.’

The RFP report is available here.

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